Press Release: The Centre for Climate Engagement launches new Law and Climate Atlas for COP28

12 Dec 2023

The Centre for Climate Change Engagement (CCE), based at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge, launched its Law and Climate Atlas during COP27 last year. Now in time for COP28, it is releasing an updated and expanded version: This free online resource maps the intersections between climate change and different areas of law to show the impact of climate change in each area, and how lawyers can help to drive the transition to net zero. The latest version outlines key climate-related legal developments from 2023 from the UK and tracks how noteworthy examples worldwide might influence the UK’s legal landscape. New content includes convenient links to key legislation and cases outlined in each section, an expanded glossary of jargon, and a wider range of resources to help navigate legal climate issues.  

Three additional sections cover the areas of Planning Law, Property Law and Commercial Arbitration. The new Planning Law section outlines how both recent and longstanding rules relate to the net zero transition, in the context of broader debates about the UK’s planning system. The Property Law section also addresses land use and the built environment, describing implications for private aspects of ownership, sale, and leasing. Finally, a new Commercial Arbitration section reinforces content in substantive sections of the Atlas by listing implications for parties and practitioners involved in this form of dispute resolution. 

Alasdair Cameron, Policy Adviser for the Law Society, said:

“I frequently recommend the Law and Climate Atlas to solicitors as a leading resource in helping them understand how climate change is impacting their area of practice today, or in the near future. As expectations shift as to what constitutes competent advice for solicitors in flagging climate related risks and opportunities to their clients, the Law and Climate Atlas will only become a more necessary and pertinent resource for all practising solicitors.”

Emily Farnworth, Director of CCE said:

“Changes happen fast in the areas of climate change and law, and the number of links between them is growing as governments introduce legislation aimed at addressing climate change, litigants consider how they can leverage existing laws to advance sustainability aims, and organisations devise new methods of harnessing legal opportunities to reach net zero. Law has a vital role to play in the net zero transition. The Atlas is a collaborative project driven by the support of many individuals and organisations who have lent their expertise to author and review its sections. We welcome any feedback and thoughts on existing sections, as well as suggestions on new legal areas and jurisdictions as we continue to expand the Law and Climate Atlas in 2024.”

The Law and Climate Atlas emerged from a CCE research project, and law student interns from the University of Cambridge working over the summers of 2022 and 2023 made invaluable contributions to the content. Each section was reviewed by legal experts from academia and practice, including lawyers from firms in the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance who gave their time generously to the project.      

Dr Markus Gehring is Associate Professor and the Centre for European Legal Studies (CELS) expert and fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre and Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. He said:

“Climate change cuts across all legal fields and needs to be addressed at every level of legal research and education. Law students are a key part of driving the change and the CCE Law and Climate Atlas provides a valuable resource that will enable students to understand how and where climate intersects with every area of law. It will, I hope, help students to develop a level of expertise to speak the language of science and the language of climate change in their daily legal studies and future practice.”

Addressing climate change is a priority for the UK but, as COP28 highlights, this is a global problem. In early 2024, the CCE will expand the Atlas to cover US law through including summaries produced by the Net Zero Lawyers Alliance. The USA is a crucial jurisdiction for addressing climate change both within and outside of America, and this new part of the Atlas will give an overview of legal experiences and ideas that will help drive this change. This launch will be the CCE’s first step towards creating an international Law and Climate Atlas that reflects climate change’s global risks and opportunities.  

See the CCE Law and Climate Atlas here